Chocolate Store Reviews and More
I review chocolate confections (pralines, cordials, bonbons, and other
chocolates with stuff in them).
is a web site with reviews of solid chocolates and chocolate bars.
Here is more information about what I will
and will not review.
Use the geographic index to stores by
Some of my favorite chocolatiers are
Some other notable chocolatiers are
My personal reviews.
Indices to reviews and directory.
This page has explanatory notes about my reviews.
My directory page has address and phone information
for many other stores.
My chocolate store reviews cover the best chocolate
stores and chocolate makers I have found. I rate stores primarily on the
quality and appeal of the finished confections, rather than the quality of the
chocolate used. My goal is not to determine the best chocolate but to describe
a lot of good chocolatiers so that you can find your own favorite pieces and
I like strong but not bitter flavors and combinations of flavors. Belgian
chocolate is my favorite, but I am open to trying any chocolatier. I generally
am not excited by truffles, especially when they are plain chocolate flavors.
Instead, I like diverse flavors and textures, all sorts of chocolates with
buttercrunch or hazelnut or fruit flavors or caramel or anything else.
The reviews page has full reviews of selected
chocolatiers and stores. A separate page, my chocolate
store directory, contains directory information (address, phone number, web
page) for the reviewed stores and many others. The directory does not contain
reviews except for some brief comments.
The category of chocolate. Basic types are Junk, Standard,
and Fine. Fine chocolatiers use high quality chocolate, and Standard
chocolatiers use good quality, but the chocolate quality is not the only
characteristic of the types. Fine chocolate celebrates the wonder of
chocolate, and the chocolate flavor in fine pieces is usually quite distinct.
Standard chocolate is aimed more at eating pleasure than tasting pleasure.
Typically, truffles and artisan chocolates are Fine. Nut clusters, creams,
and caramels are usually Standard. Most chocolate in your grocery store candy
aisle is Junk. However, particular pieces can cross boundaries if they are
made with better or worse chocolate and are executed better or more poorly
than others in their category.
Some chocolatiers cross types, so I have been creative in describing
their mixes. Type is meant to describe the chocolate, not to rate it.
Some Standard chocolatiers are recommended over some fine chocolatiers. For
a rating, see my conclusion for each chocolatier.
Junk chocolate is that stuff you typically find in grocery stores or bulk
candy stores and is not reviewed here.
Rather than a mechanical rating, I summarize my opinion of each chocolatier,
typically by recommending how to use them.
One description I use repeatedly is "tour stop." This denotes a store I
would want to visit when I am in the city, but one that I would likely
not visit regularly if I lived there. It is a place to splurge when on
vacation but not necessarily worth the price on a regular basis.
I include approximate price information as a guide. Prices do not include
shipping. US prices do not include sales tax; European prices include VAT.
Rates may vary at a chocolatier for different size packages and different
products. Typically, I will give the rate for a package of about a pound, but,
for the very expensive chocolatiers, I use the rate for a smaller package.
Also, since prices change over time, I give the year in which I checked each
price. Because I did not record price information in the early years of my
reviews, not all entries include prices. I will fill in prices as I go and
would appreciate your reports.
When I started measuring the chocolates I received, I found a surprising
number of chocolatiers gave me less than they advertised. I even tried
different scales and measuring a known mass for comparison. When I receive
less than the stated mass, I report the price based on what I received.
I report prices in local currency per pound. Using the pound gives a
standard mass for comparison. I use it rather than the kilogram because
I started my reviews with US stores and write primarily for a US audience.
Although I convert kilograms to pounds, I report foreign currencies instead
of converting them, because exchange rates fluctuate.
This is the domestic shipping cost for some order two pounds or under (or a
kilogram when metric units are used). I started listing shipping costs in 2006
because too many chocolatiers now require expensive and wasteful overnight
shipping. I have received more than a hundred chocolate shipments, so I have
had plenty of opportunity to compare shipping methods. The expense of overnight
or even two-day shipping is almost never worth it, either to prevent heat
damage or to preserve freshness. I will count high shipping costs against
The cost is the maximum charge (e.g., cross-country rather than local) at the
cheapest rate (e.g., ground rather than overnight). I report this charge as a
guide. Your charge may vary because of distance, current weather, rate changes,
speed, or fee structure.
This indicates whether the chocolates come with a chart showing you what
each piece in the box is. I will note if a chocolatier supplies no chart,
drawings or descriptions, a map of box locations, or color photographs.
Most of the addresses listed are for stores. However, sometimes other addresses
are shown for a business:
- Retailer: A third party who sells the chocolatier's products.
- Attraction: A museum or tourist attraction.
- Factory store: A factory with a retail shop or a direct outlet of a factory.
- Orders: Contact information for placing orders.
- Office: An office with no retail shop.
- Factory: A factory not intended to do significant retail business.
- Mail: An address only for mail.
What Stores Will I Review?
Principally, I review chocolate confections. That includes things that are
sometimes called pralines, cordials, or bonbons. It is chocolate with stuff
in it: chocolate with a cream filling, buttercrunch coated in chocolate,
chocolate-covered ganache, and so on.
Since I cannot review everything, I usually do not review solid chocolates
or chocolate bars.
is a web site with reviews of solid chocolates and chocolate bars.
Other reasons I do not review some stores include:
- Price. Some chocolatiers charge over
$100/lb. There are many excellent chocolatiers with lower prices, so there
is little reason for anybody to pay more, and I am very unlikely to
recommend a chocolatier with astronomical prices. Rather than waste my time
and money reviewing a chocolatier I am unlikely to recommend, I prefer to
sample better prospects. I will try some expensive chocolatiers if I am
near their store and can purchase a small sample without paying shipping,
or if I have some particular reason.
- Quality. Due to time and calorie
constraints, I cannot review every chocolatier. So I eliminate some
chocolatiers based on perceived quality from visual inspection, including
images in a chocolatier's advertising or web pages.
- Shipping costs. Some chocolatiers
charge exhorbitant prices for overnight shipping. After experience with
this, I decided overnight shipping is not worth the cost. Even some of the
two-day or longer shipping charges are too expensive. If a chocolatier
offers only expensive shipping, I am not inclined to review them. I have
tried the best chocolate, and it can be very good, but I am not likely to
recommend other people spend huge amounts of money to get it.
Advice to Chocolatiers
Since I have bought chocolate from over a hundred stores, I am one of the most
experienced chocolate consumers. Fine chocolatiers are artisans and have to
express their own style. Business, however, is another matter, so I have some
advice in that area.
- Label your chocolates. Consumers want to know what they are biting
into. Give at least a description of each piece, and illustrations as soon
as you can, and pictures if possible.
- Weigh your product. A surprising number of my orders weigh less than
the claimed amount. This is unlawful and senseless. Most chocolatiers are
not selling a commodity, so the cost of the materials is not worth cheating
consumers. They are selling craftsmanship at a premium price. Ensure
your weight claims are truthful.
- Offer postal service shipping. UPS is not good at residential
delivery. Do not confuse the service UPS provides your business with the
poor service UPS provides your customers. It is frustrating to pay for
two-day service and receive a package in seven days because UPS' delivery
and pick-up hours are incompatible with working people. I prefer the US
- Offer inexpensive shipping. Your chocolates are only astoundingly
fresh when you make them, not when they arrive overnight. Because they do
not arrive astoundingly fresh, they are not worth an astounding overnight
shipping cost. Often two-day shipping is not worth its cost either. Let
your customer choose regular shipping. Because your products have a short
shelf life, you need to get them to stores quickly. However, when you ship
directly to a consumer, you have more leeway. Also, show shipping costs
before a customer has to enter personal information (except, of course, the
ZIP code or other location where the product will be shipped).
- Make ordering simple. Let customers place one-time orders without
registering. I have over 100 passwords to manage; I do not want more.
- Do not spam. Do send informative email about an order. Do not send
any sort of advertising unless the customer explicitly requests it
and you confirm their email address by getting a confirmation
response to a test message. No tricks, no default "yes" answers.
Other resources for locating chocolate stores include
Johnny's Chocolates and Pralines
Laura's Guide to Buying
Chocolate in Boston,
Baguette's reviews of chocolate stores and other sweet gourmet foods in
Cloister's reviews of
solid chocolates and chocolate bars,
Yahoo's chocolatier listing.
If you would like to know where chocolate comes from,
here is a superb
page. There is also information at the
Dialing International Phone Numbers
In my web pages, international phone numbers have a "+" and three parts,
like this: +32 (02) 513 78 92.
The three parts are country code, area code in parentheses, and local number.
Here is how to dial an international phone number.
|You are in the same area code.
||1. Dial the local number.||513 78 92
|You are in the same country but a different area code.
||1. Dial the area code as shown.||02 513 78 92
|2. Dial the local number.||02 513 78 92
|You are in a different country.
||1. Dial the international dialing prefix for your country. In the US, this is 011.||011 32 2 513 78 92
|2. Dial the country code.||011 32 2 513 78 92
|3. Dial the area code without the leading 0.||011 32 2 513 78 92
|4. Dial the local number.||011 32 2 513 78 92
If your phone has a "+" key, you can use it as the international dialing prefix.
In French phone numbers, the area code is shown as "(0)". When calling from
outside France, you drop the 0, as the instructions say. Inside France, you
always dial it.
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